The topography of corticopontine projections is controlled by postmitotic expression of the area-mapping gene Nr2f1

Development. 2022 Mar 1;149(5):dev200026. doi: 10.1242/dev.200026. Epub 2022 Mar 9.


Axonal projections from layer V neurons of distinct neocortical areas are topographically organized into discrete clusters within the pontine nuclei during the establishment of voluntary movements. However, the molecular determinants controlling corticopontine connectivity are insufficiently understood. Here, we show that an intrinsic cortical genetic program driven by Nr2f1 graded expression is directly implicated in the organization of corticopontine topographic mapping. Transgenic mice lacking cortical expression of Nr2f1 and exhibiting areal organization defects were used as model systems to investigate the arrangement of corticopontine projections. By combining three-dimensional digital brain atlas tools, Cre-dependent mouse lines and axonal tracing, we show that Nr2f1 expression in postmitotic neurons spatially and temporally controls somatosensory topographic projections, whereas expression in progenitor cells influences the ratio between corticopontine and corticospinal fibres passing the pontine nuclei. We conclude that cortical gradients of area-patterning genes are directly implicated in the establishment of a topographic somatotopic mapping from the cortex onto pontine nuclei.

Keywords: Thy1-eYFP-H reporter line; 3D data analysis; 3D digital brain atlas; Anterograde fluorescent tracing; Conditional knockout mouse models; Corticopontine topography; Gradients of area mapping genes; Layer V pyramidal neurons; Nr2f1; Pontine nuclei.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cerebral Cortex
  • Mice
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons
  • Pons* / physiology